1870’s Miners Lamp

I was very honoured to receive a nice gift in the post in December 2021 from Blantyre Project reader, George Park. Wrapped very careful in cotton wool, was this small, delicate miner’s lamp. George had already corresponded with me, so I knew it was coming by post and thanks to our conversations knew the story behind it.

Putting a little context around this. Mary Anne Roberts married John Gold 1871 and had several children. Sadly, John Gold died in the Blantyre Pit Disaster in 1877, along with his brothers Andrew, James & Benjamin. Mary Anne also lost 4 of her own brothers that day. Moses, Samuel, Thomas, and William

However, she did remarry on 21st march 1879, to Andrew Waddell. Andrew was the son of Joseph Waddell and Janet Clarkson, who married at Bothwell on 14th June 1846. Andrew was born around 1853, but a birth record has not been found. He married the widow, Mary Anne Roberts Gold.

George told me, “Andrew died in 1925, and his old lamp, which had no doubt been replaced at some time by a safety lamp, was passed by way of my great grandmother, the daughter of Andrew and Mary, Matilda Maize Waddell, to my grandmother Jeannie Gold Waddell, and then to my mother Mary (May) Forrest, and ultimately to me. Andrew’s father, Joseph Waddell, had died in a pit accident, when a “piece of coal” (pit roof) fell on him. I would speculate that the lamp might have been his fathers, and had been held as a keepsake.”

George added, “My mum once told me that the lamp held “sweet oil” and a wick was fed down the spout. The wee hook hung on the strap around the miners helmet.”

Thanks again to George for passing this on to me. The lamp does indeed have some age, the sort in use prior to safety lamps. I’ll take very good care of it, cherished amongst a collection of other Blantyre memorabilia with its story nearby.

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